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Customer Behaviour

With Mother’s Day around the corner, the influence of the family unit on customer experience management is increasingly evident. This is not simply a case of the carefully-positioned flower displays instigating spontaneous purchases, or the sudden surge in red wine and chocolate sales. Rather, the family unit as a whole is having a marked influence on customers’ behaviour patterns, in terms of when and where they make their purchases, and even if they choose to leave their houses at all. Because of this, brands need to pay close attention to the lifestyles and thought processes of the people they are trying to please, if they are to walk in-sync with the family members of 2016.

Implementing The Six Pillars into your customer experience strategy

Doing this will inevitably require a strict adherence to The Six PillarsTM, and particularly the pillars of Personalisation, Time and Effort, and Empathy. Personalisation encourages brands to continually adapt the experience to the specific needs of the individual, whereas Time and Effort ensures that the retail process is as seamless and stress-free as possible. Empathy, meanwhile, is more about companies putting themselves ‘in the shoes’ of the customer, and demands that they make a concerted effort to see matters from their perspective.

The importance of time in the 21st century

For the family units of the 21st century, it is essential for brands to possess these attributes in spades. This is because the domestic structure of post-war Britain – in which the father figure typically went out to work, whilst the mother remained at home to look after the children and to do the shopping – no longer exists. It has become less tangible, and more mercurial. Often, families find themselves in a situation where both parents work full-time. Children become the responsibility of qualified carers and in-laws, and ‘everyday’ tasks such as shopping and maintaining the family home have to be dealt with when time permits.

It is no surprise, therefore, that there has been much speculation in the press about whether retailers – in particular the big supermarkets – should be allowed to extend their Sunday opening hours beyond the permitted six. Few would doubt whether the demand would be there; often, the debate centres around the morality of such a decision, and whether Sunday should be reserved for God and family and friends, and for getting some much-needed rest.

However, this debate has, in a sense, been superseded by the bigger question of the future of retail. With ‘time’ being viewed as a precious commodity within the busy family unit, it can be much harder for people to actually take their trolleys down the supermarket aisles. As a result, online shopping has experienced a significant growth in the last three years, and it is predicted that thousands of jobs in the retail sector could have disappeared by 2025. Over the next decade, customers are more likely to do their shopping over the internet, and this includes their groceries. Many companies have already adapted their customer experience strategy and capitalised on this shift in behaviour, though, and it is not uncommon to see supermarkets delivering to their customers’ doors on a regular basis. Furthermore, the grocery retailer Morrisons has recently partnered with Amazon, allowing the brand to start selling its products through its main website, which will extend the freedom and choice available to the ‘time-deprived’ consumer.

As David Potts, the Chief Executive of Morrisons, explained: “This agreement is built on Morrisons’ unique strengths… The combination of our fresh food expertise with Amazon’s online and logistics capabilities is compelling.”

So, does all this mean that an increasing number of Mother’s Day purchases will be made online this year? It’s very likely. It’s also likely that a lot of family members won’t be able to give the matter any thought, as work and childcare responsibilities drain the last vestiges of free time. It is therefore up to brands in the UK to really think about their customer experience strategy and understand these behaviour patterns and lifestyle difficulties, to take some of the burdens off the customers’ shoulders. It is clear from looking at brands such as Amazon, Morrisons and Ocado that this process has already begun.

For more customer experience insight visit the KPMG Nunwood CEM blog.

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